Negotiation and conflict resolution skills are crucial for the leader. Lewicki et al. (2010) provide the analysis of different negotiation strategies, and having taken all their advices into account, one can elaborate a personal approach to negotiation. My personal approach based on the learning from Lewicki’s book will have four crucial elements: thorough planning, preference of integrative negotiation over distributive bargaining, preventing miscommunication by realization of stereotypes, and being flexible but not yielding constantly keeping in mind own objectives.
Thorough planning is necessary for the negotiation process to be more productive (Lewicki et al.
, 2010, p. 556). At the planning stage, it seems to be the most important to define the goals and objectives clearly and collect as much information about the opposite party as possible. Clear definition of goals will not allow blurring of the objective during the negotiation process. It will be easy to compare the current state of affairs with the desired one at any stage of the negotiation. The clearer the goal is, the easier it is to keep in mind constantly.
Then, obtaining information about the opposite side is crucial for success.
It allows predicting the behavior of the other side with a certain degree of probability and planning own style of communication more wisely. Of course, it is impossible to know everything about the opposite side, and the most important information including the resistance point is usually thoroughly concealed (Lewicki et al. , 2010, p. 70). Yet, knowing much about the general position of the other side (or sides) gives opportunities for acquiring a better understanding of their negotiation strategy and even making a more or less probable guess about their resistance point.
Needless to say, that I will thoroughly conceal my own resistance point and the information that can reveal it. However, knowing the resistance point of the opposite side is not that crucial in case of integrative negotiation which I prefer to distributive bargaining. Integrative approach seeks to find a solution beneficial to all parties and emphasizes commonalities rather than differences (Lewicki et al. , 2010, p. 73). I believe that integrative negotiation is better in the long run because it allows building relationships with the parties.
However, in some situations win-win approach is impossible, and when the resources are limited or the other party practices distributive bargaining, I will not stick to the integrative strategy and will change my approach to achieve success. It is also crucial to prevent miscommunication and misperception that often has its source in the power of stereotypes.
Many norms and values tacitly drive human behavior, and the only way to limit their power is to realize them. Ulijn et al. (2005) showed in their research how cultural norms can influence the behavior and emotions of the negotiating parties. Therefore, it is important to remember about the power of values and norms and take into consideration cultural differences in case of negotiation with the representatives of different cultures involved. Finally, I believe it to be very important to be flexible but not too opportunistic. Negotiations cannot occur in strict accordance with our plans because they reflect the balance of two or more forces (i. e. parties) and not only our will.
Therefore, the situation is likely to change rather often and flexibility is necessary to adjust quickly. Besides, flexibility is necessary to reach an agreement because the result of the negotiation is very rarely a complete victory of one side, so any party must be ready to make concessions. Yet, in this readiness to compromise, I should never forget about the goal which is a valued outcome and not an agreement per se (Lewicki et al, 2010, p. 558).
This is what Lewicki et al. (2010) call one of the key paradoxes of negotiation: “sticking with the strategy versus opportunistic pursuit of new options” (p. 559). The balance between both extremes can be achieved by constantly comparing the goals set at the planning stage with the solutions formulated during negotiation process. Thus, my personal approach in negotiation and conflict resolution highlights four key elements: thorough planning, integrative negotiation, realization of stereotypes, and balanced flexibility. These are the points that I believe to be the most crucial skills for negotiation.
In addition, I would like to emphasize the importance of being sincere but not too open, since the opposite side may take an advantage from my openness. I also want to stress that I believe the resort to unethical tactics to be unacceptable. It is not only against moral values but ruins reputation in the long term perspective.
References Lewicki, R. J. , Barry, B. , & Saunders, D. M. (2010). Negotiation. (6th ed. ). Boston, MA: McGraw Hill. Ulijn, J. , Rutkowski, A. F. , Kumar, R. , & Zhu, Y. (2005). Patterns of feelings in face-to-face negotiation: a Sino-Dutch pilot study. Cross Cultural Management, 12(3), 103-118.
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